Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
While free agency always creates a major change in scenery for many players, it appears onetime American Association (Grand Prairie ’11) hurler Bo Schultz will be given the opportunity to bounce back from the surgery to repair a torn right ulnar collateral ligament which cost him all of last season while still representing Toronto. The Blue Jays took the right-hander off their 40-man roster, and optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo so he could be back in the parent camp for spring training if he has fully recovered.
On the other hand, former major league closer Brandon Kintzler (pictured, St. Paul ’09) figures to be in demand as a free agent, with rumors he could even return to Minnesota. Texas’s Tanner Scheppers (St. Paul ’09) is another prominent name now available to all 30 teams.
Needy Gets 9 Strikeouts in 4 Innings
SBNation picked up where this corner left off a few days ago in singling out big Sioux City right-hander James Needy for impressing in the Arizona Fall League except for his first start after two bullpen outings when he gave up five runs in a two-inning stint.
Needy has started twice since, and his new bosses with the Miami Marlins must be ecstatic.
Only 26, Needy threw four scoreless innings of two-hit baseball November 1, then came back six days later to strike out eight in his first three innings for the Salt River Rafters and finish with another scoreless performance for four more innings with a total of nine whiffs.
Who Will Step Up After Alonzo Harris Tabbed Best in Any Independent League?
Isn’t it about time some major league organization gives versatile Alonzo Harris another look?
Harris, who plays both second base and the outfield, was in the New York Mets’ farm system from the time he was 19 until he turned 24 and the Miami Marlins gave him a brief look in 2014.
But for the last four seasons–not counting 11 games in an advanced Class A league for the Marlins–Harris has been virtually touring top Independent leagues. And, he has made a mark everywhere he has turned to the point Baseball America just named the 28-year-old its Independent Leagues Player of the Year after he guided York, PA to the Atlantic League title.
The 5-foot-11 star gave St. Paul two very productive years in 2015-16, hitting .298 and .307 with a combined 142 runs, 30 homers, 120 RBI and 82 steals. His average continued to a career-best .315 with a league-leading 89 runs (114 games) and another 31 thefts this season.
“His rare combination of speed and power along with his defensive versatility gave us opportunities to adjust our lineup and strategy every night,” York manager Mark Mason told Baseball America.
Photo: Quinn Harris / Icon Sportswire
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at traditional book-buying sites, or at www.WirzandAssociates.com.